Friday, October 14, 2011

October news

Greetings CSA compatriots

We made it to the last week. Today's pickup is the last of the season and as we look back, here are a few things that come to mind.

Occupy Wall Street

A couple of weeks ago we had an epic farm trip down to wall street where we schlepped a van load of produce collected from other likeminded Vermont organic farmers. We brought many loaves of bread and about 500 lbs of veggies right to the protest and were given the rock star treatment (well almost… al sharpton and kanye west came the next day and the paparazzi seemed somewhat more interested in them).  Folks there were incredibly psyched to have our food and support. And we were genuinely moved by the spirit of the place.  I think it is the Woodstock of our times. A unified resistance giving voice to a host of injustices, having fun, and stirring up a little ruckus… but not too much.

Learning to bake (and farm)

As our CSA family you have seen us evolve, by now you must be familiar with our quirks- our piles of junk, our erratic newsletters, our ragamuffin wwoofers (often shirtless), our inability to figure out our sign in system after six years. Over the last 2 years many of you have watched our bread baking evolve. This year's major accomplishment has been building the oven and bakery, and there is still much to be done before winter (like 3 out of 4 walls- but it does look good from the front!)

It is with a hint of sadness that I realize I have stepped back from doing much of the farm work in order to really take on the baking. Hopefully next year I will be able to balance my time better between these two aspects of our business. I'd like to think that once the building is done and the kinks are worked out of the recipes etc... the bread will be a bit less demanding and I can do a better job building our soils, growing your food, and maybe even cleaning up some of the junk. By the way did you notice the pile of safes in the driveway? They were given to us by the friendly men dismantling the vault at the old factory point bank. I am thinking of arranging them in a circle to create a Stonehenge sundial, thoughts? Bonnie is not impressed.

Last pickup of 2011

As a farewell treat we are giving everyone extra quantities of late season veggies this week. But please scrounge up any egg cartons or pint/quart containers you may have accumulated at home and bring them by the farm. 

If you've got a hankering for our bread, eggs, cold hardy winter greens, and the rest of our prepared foods after this week, come to the market on Sundays from 10-2 at jk adams.  All the way through February! 

(or stop by the farm or email or call us, me miss you already)

Again, thanks so much for your continued support.  We look forward to feeding you in the future. 

ps.  just snapped the following pictures of the greenhouses this afternoon. 
just to show what we've been up to... greens through the winter!

did you know each of our greenhouses are named after our favorite tomato varieties... now you do!

kale and arugula in the Green Zebra
chard, turnips, tat soi and parsley in Cherokee Purple

radishes and spinach in Sungold

BrandyWine ready to plant

new greenhouse just completed (tentatively named Juliet)

bull's blood beet greens, cold hardy lettuces, tatsoi and spinach to plant into the BrandyWine

oliver's new junk... or stonehenge art or something

Saturday, September 10, 2011

September news

Dear CSA friends,

I knew when we got married over eleven years ago that life with Oliver would probably lean more towards chaos than order.  I was right. The combination of Levis life and our choice of farming as our livelihood has made me a lot more comfortable not knowing what's coming around the bend (hmm… we're building a bakery… okay, sure…) and can handle the idea that I'm not totally in control of things (hmm… the walk in cooler thermostat went haywire and all our produce is frozen).  I am used to highs and lows, but I have to admit that this past week has felt significantly more out of control and a little more low than usual.
We've been hearing about more and more farmers that have lost all of their crops, all of their fall and winter income.   Seeing the photos of flooded, decimated fields feels raw and empty.  It's not just about the vegetables or the money but their way of life that has dissolved. The same for folks who aren't farmers who have lost so much in Vermont, in Texas with the fires, in Japan with the typhoon.  Checking up on the news has become a bit like checking up on the apocalypse.  And it has felt heavy, unsettling and just not right.
In that mood, I walked out to the CSA pick up today.  And I was reminded that I really like what I do and didn't feel like the world was completely falling apart.   To be able to see your babies growing bigger (even if I forget their names), meet your parents, learn about your new business ventures and chat about school politics, fermentation and husk cherries was the highlight of my day.  I value these relationships and feel very lucky to live in a community where people support what we do. I also feel deep gratitude to our crew who we could clearly not function without.  They are a group of folks who are incredibly generous with their energy and patience and are just plain fun to be around.  They care about what they are doing here and they hold an important place in our business and our family.
After the CSA was Eden's naptime and then on to pick up Guv and Talula from school.   Which is when the second highlight of my day happened.  It was Talula's first day of full day pre-k and I was, of course, a tad late.  As I was rushing towards the cafeteria entrance, they walked out of the building holding hands and she had a huge, beaming, ear to ear smile on her face.  And I pretty much melted.  All three of them are such amazing kids.  Not easy, but awesome.  I occasionally need to remind myself of that.  And of everything else that is good in life. 
Here are 2 suggestions for how you can help Vermont farmers affected by hurricane Irene:


The Vermont Farm Fund offers small, zero-interest loans very quickly to storm-affected farmers. or 802-472-5840. This fund was set up by Pete Johnson, a hugely successful organic grower in northern VT whose barn burned down over the winter. After the fire he raised $160,000 in donations to help him rebuild. Since then he has been repaying that money into a fund to help other farmers with interest free revolving loans for their emergency needs.


Alternatively visit Evening Song Farm's website, they are a young couple whose farm just south of Rutland was devastated by the storm. 7 of their 10 acres were washed away when the Mill River stormed through their farm. Most farms only suffered a loss of produce, but these folks lost their soil, permanently eroding their farm (which they just bought last year). They have posted a link for donations at .

Sunday, August 14, 2011

August news

Hello CSA folks,

July flew by as it usually does with lightening speed.  This season has been an interesting challenge because of the bakery and the expanding VT Goldburger enterprise (we recently realized that we are in 18 co-ops throughout VT, NY and MASS ). Although the work is (mostly) fun, we do try to emerge from our bubble occasionally and we did it in high style last week—we celebrated Oliver's birthday with a retro roller skating farm prom.  Oh man was that fun.  We highly recommend Rollerama in Schenectady—totally worth the schlep. 

In more farmy news, we harvested our garlic last week.  It was a lot of fun to have the whole team out doing one task together- we're usually scattered amongst many field/kitchen/construction projects so it was a treat to have many hands taking a big project to completion.  Those (approximately) 5,000 heads of garlic have been drying out in the greenhouse and today's goal is to tie and hang them from rafters in the bakery loft.  Speaking of the bakery, you'll notice the beginnings of walls. Baby steps. 

Another agricultural accomplishment of the past 2 weeks has been planting our new asparagus patch (500 crowns).  They are usually planted in the spring, but we got a deal on these from our friend David at Elmore Roots nursery in the Northeast Kingdom, he specializes in cold hardy plants and fruit trees.  The asparagus won't be ready for harvest for a couple years, but we are excited to be putting in more long term perennial plantings (like rhubarb which should start producing next year). Both of these crops will help fill out the early season csa shares .

We are also pleased to announce that our youngest chicks are now laying eggs.  We are proud of them for this very delicious developmental milestone.  Especially in the midst of some harrowing experiences—we have seen a dramatic increase in predation, Matt, one of the bakers and general jack of all trades wwoofer, decided to do several stake outs and has shot: a fox, a skunk, and 3 raccoons (one of which is being turned into a hat). As you can see- chicken is very popular.

Another project that we've been working on is farmer's table night at the Wilburton Inn.   We cook an enormous globally inspired vegetarian buffet dinner and bring it over to the inn for folks to enjoy on the terrace.  We think about a theme that we're in the mood for and then jump headfirst into the walk-in cooler to see what veggies are left from the csa pick up to create the meal.  Today's theme is Mediterranean.  $20 covers the buffet and dessert; beer and wine is available for purchase.  Seating is from 7-8.  It's a kid friendly, fun way to spend a Tuesday night.  Call the inn at 362-2500 to make a reservation.  And look for your potatoes growing on the hill as you go up the driveway.


If you're hungry for more earth sky time delicacies, we'll be vending food at the Hildene arts and crafts festival this weekend.  Expect grilled goldburgers, hoomoos , breads and seasonal salads.    Also, there's a new special treat available at the Friday pick ups—swoon worthy Isobel and Appleby fruit pies.  We know they are fabulous because our good friend Lily Calfee bakes them here in our oven.  And we get to try them all.  We are truly lucky folks. 

Hope you're all having a great summer.


Bonnie, Oliver and crew

Oliver and Bonnie Levis
Earth SkyTime Community Farm
(802) 384 1400

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July news

apologies for the delay in newsletter updates—here's one written by wwoofer Max

Greetings CSA folk!

It is officially summer and around these parts that means lots of pond jumping, fresh veggies and afternoon siestas. But amidst all the fun we're having dangling off the rope swing and snoozing on the porch to escape the midday sun, we're working hard to bring our friends and neighbors the wholesome food they love!

Our wood-fired oven is up and running, cranking out bread that is even better than before. Our barn/bakery is also finished, as long as you aren't counting the walls. The new oven is truly impressive and the only thing more exciting than the delicious breads it bakes, was watching it get built. Two Spaniards were deployed from Valencia to build the 14-foot diameter, rotating oven in ten days. They say Rome wasn't built overnight, but if these guys had anything to do with it, it could've been done in a week.

Our crew this year is really special and without them, we'd have a lot of disappointed faces at our CSA pickups—which are now being held in our freshly roofed farm stand. We're working in the fields six days a week to make sure our plants are happy and get all the love they need to produce delicious food. Our greenhouses are bustling with ripening tomatoes, our chickens are clucking happily as they peck through food scraps for tasty insects and we harvested a zucchini a few nights ago that was bigger than Eden.

Meanwhile, our kitchen remains a hive of activity. With the help of Craigslist, Oliver has successfully amassed a collection of commercial food processors, enormous dough mixers (150 quarts- oy vey!) and other kitchen doohickeys to help us make increasing amounts of V.T. Goldburgers, Hoomoos, pesto, cumin crackers.

Sure the work is hard and the days are long, but it's all worth it when we see our friends coming together over our food. Our buzz is growing and we couldn't be more thankful to our loyal friends and CSA members for supporting us as we continue to build our farm and bakery and work out the kinks.

So come see us at the farmers markets in Manchester on Thursday, Londonderry on Saturday or Dorset on Sunday. Or come visit us at the farm and try one of our tasty breads. We're even making a chocolate loaf- yup, chocolate.  And if you happen to eat at the Equinox Hotel's Marsh Tavern or have a sandwich at the Manchester Bar and Grill, you'll be enjoying genuine Earth Sky Time bread.  (Gotta pay for that oven somehow!)


-Max & the wwoofs

Friday, June 3, 2011

CSA time

Hello CSA friends


We hope everyone is excited for good veggies because pick ups begin next week- Tuesday June 7th from 12-1 or Friday June10th from 4-6.  Plan for lots of greens because that's what spring in the garden is all about.  Some herbs will be ready for home made salad dressing too.  

It's been a time of exciting progress here—the baking barn is a work of art that has been a pleasure for us to watch unfold. John Newton's timberframe crew has been amazing. We inaugurated the new barn with a rocking karaoke birthday party for me (Bonnie) and as of this morning, it is completely filled with pallets of oven parts. During both pick ups this week you'll be able to witness its construction. Francisco and Antonio will be here building it for about a week and then the baking frenzy begins.

This, of course, in the middle of making around 1000 goldburgers per week, doing three farmers markets, getting everything planted into the fields and greenhouses, and taking care of what's already planted.  We have an especially awesome team this season and we are so psyched to continue to grow with them. 

Looking forward to seeing you all next week, and feel free to stop by the markets this weekend if you cant wait till then.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Re: CSA!!!

Dear csa folks

Just an update from the farm. Busy as ever. New season, new projects. The markets are over, the greenhouse crunch time begins. Planted 160,000 onions last week. Still picking away at the last of the cold hardy winter greens. This year we are going to try planting a bed of super early peas up the north side of our heated greenhouse.

The veggie burger business goes strong, now in the co-ops of Burlington, Montpelier, Middlebury, Brattleboro, Cambridge and Albany (and locally at New Morning and JK Adams). We sent in the deposit on our new brick oven, which is coming in May. Lots to do to get ready for that. The bread was a hit at the Dorset market this winter and will be available at all 3 local farmers markets this summer (Manchester, Dorset and now Londonderry) and we've got a real structure for CSA pickups this year- no more little tent moving around the yard. Yes, we are getting pretty serious. But we are still our nutty selves and we are continually grateful for the support you all have given us over the years.

We've gotten renewals from many of you but we want to remind folks to sign up before the end of march to receive your $20 credit. If you aren't planning to sign up this year, let us know why. We won't be mad, and it could help us improve. Anyway, we promise to do a better job with newsletters this year, and to eventually get a good recipe page up on our website. Other than that, we plan to just keep being our happily busy selves growing lots of healthy food and we hope to see you soon. Also if you'd like us to start any specific plants for your home gardens, we'd be happy to do so. And please stop by in May for the finest (and cheapest) certified organic veggie and flower plants around. If you can't wait til may to see us, stop by for eggs, fresh bread and greens on Fridays from 2-4. 

As I write this, my mind wanders to the natural disaster in Japan and the chaos in the middle east and the global scourge of climate change. I think we all long for safety and stability, for ecological sustainability and political sanity. I am grateful to live in Vermont- for this amazing snowy winter, for our relatively progressive government, and the clean air and water we enjoy. For the open (albeit overpriced) landscape, and the fertility of the soil. My family and I are living a dream and we thank you for helping us bring it to fruition. Let's be good to each other!

the farm team

   Bonnie on skis outside our new farmstand

   Oliver and Bonnie testing out the Llopis oven at our friend Noah's bakery in New Hampshire. We just ordered our own!

Bonnie and Oliver Levis

1547 Main st. Manchester Ctr, VT 05255
802 384 1400

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Hello CSA friends!

It's been quite a while since our last newsletter. Lots to report around here.  The kids have been growing faster than spring radishes. Guv's year in kindergarten has been chock full of academics; he's been finding his newfound writing skills very useful- especially for writing hardware store shopping lists for invention supplies.  He's just like Oliver (oy vey!).  Talula has miraculously turned into our easiest child and really likes pink frilly things and talks about her ballet class incessantly (we truly have no idea where she got this from).  Eden is talking up a storm and recently informed me that he was drawing an ipod.

We've been busy harvesting our cold hardy greens all winter, but we've also been taking our VT Goldburgers to the next level. They are now certified organic, we just ordered 5000 spiffy new labels, and we are busy getting them into stores all around VT.  We're on the cusp of the pieces all coming together.  While this type of marketing is not our forte, we're excited to be expanding this delicious aspect of our business.

And there is yet another culinary adventure on the horizon.  Many of you have been shopping at the winter farmers market at JK Adams and have tasted Oliver's fabulous sourdough breads.  He's ready to kick it up a few hundred notches and has his eye on a magnificent super fancy Spanish wood burning oven.  Taking on this project (which would involve flying actual Spaniards over to install it into the addition we would have to build) is a huge financial leap, but it will allow us to exponentially expand the bread baking and support ramped up production of the Goldburgers.  We can also bake our granola and open sesame crackers as well as multitudes of other creations that will be sure to follow.  We're in the figuring it out financially stage and will keep you posted.

2011 is shaping up to be a great season.  We've been working in the greenhouse this week, and are preparing to plant onions, parsley and the earliest tomatoes next week. It is great to start with momentum from the fantastic response of customers at the winter market, excitement for new projects in the works, and for the great wwoofer team that is forming.  We're going to have some wonderful returning wwoofers, so look out for familiar faces.  We hope to see familiar CSA faces too.  We're proud not to be raising our prices for the 4th year in a row.  And we are offering an early bird special for renewing members- $20 in credit towards purchases made at our new farm stand (oh yeah-another project!).

the sign up form and bread share info is all on our website while there, check out our latest slide show.

think spring!
Bonnie and Oliver Levis

1547 Main st. Manchester Ctr, VT 05255
802 384 1400